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Bauhinia forficata - Link
Common Name Brazilian Orchid Tree
Family Fabaceae
USDA hardiness 10-12
Known Hazards None known
Habitats Atlantic rainforest, most commonly in secondary formations and only occasionally in dense primary forest, favouring the rich moist soils of the alluvial plains[ 419 ].
Range S. America - Argentina, Uruguay, Paraguay, southern and eastern Brazil, Bolivia.
Edibility Rating  
Other Uses  
Weed Potential No
Medicinal Rating  
Half Hardy Moist Soil Full sun

Brazilian orchard tree?Bauhinia forficata, is a fast-growing, pioneer species. It is a spiny, deciduous or semi-deciduous tree that grows up to 5-9m tall. It has an open and irregular crown and a usually crooked bole up to 30-40cm in diameter. It has a nitrogen-fixing capacity. The leaf of Brazilian orchid tree has been known as remedy for diabetes. It is also an anticholesterolemic , blood purifier, diuretic, hypoglycaemic, and tonic. The wood is soft and moderately heavy, and used for fuel and charcoal making.

Bauhinia forficata Brazilian Orchid Tree

wikimedia.org User:Leptictidium
Bauhinia forficata Brazilian Orchid Tree
Physical Characteristics
 icon of manicon of lolypop
Bauhinia forficata is a deciduous Tree growing to 12 m (39ft) by 10 m (32ft) at a fast rate.
It is hardy to zone (UK) 9 and is not frost tender. and are pollinated by Insects.Suitable for: light (sandy), medium (loamy) and heavy (clay) soils and prefers well-drained soil. Suitable pH: acid, neutral and basic (alkaline) soils and can grow in very acid and saline soils.
It cannot grow in the shade. It prefers moist soil and can tolerate drought. The plant can tolerates strong winds but not maritime exposure.

Bauhinia candicans Benth.

Edible Uses
None known
Medicinal Uses
Plants For A Future can not take any responsibility for any adverse effects from the use of plants. Always seek advice from a professional before using a plant medicinally.

Brazilian orchid tree leaf has become very popular as a treatment for diabetes ever since research carried out in the 1920?s demonstrated its ability to reduce blood sugar levels. The leaves contain a range of compounds including flavonoids, alkaloids, and glycosides. Various trials have been carried out into the health benefits of the leaves, particularly the hypoglycaemic activity. Whilst most of these trials have been positive, at least one was unable to discern positive benefits[ 318 , 739 ]. The main plant compounds in the plant include astragalin, bauhinoside, beta-sitosterol, flavonols, flavonoids, glycosides, guanidine, heteroglycosides, kaempferitrin, organic acids, quercitrosides, rhamnose, and saponins[ 318 ]. Astragalin has well-proven antibacterial activity[ 318 ]. Kaempferitrin, a flavonoid, has been shown to significantly lower blood sugar levels, to have diuretic activity and to help repair kidney cell damage[ 318 ]. The leaves are anticholesterolemic, blood purifier, diuretic, hypoglycaemic and tonic[ 318 , 739 ]. An infusion is drunk regularly after meals for its health benefits, whilst it is also drunk specifically in the treatment of diabetes, high blood sugar levels, kidney and urinary disorders, to reduce blood cholesterol levels and as a general tonic and blood purifier[ 318 ]. Other conditions that have been treated with the leaves include central nervous system disorders, diarrhoea, elephantiasis, intestinal worms, leprosy, obesity, skin disorders, snakebite and syphilis[ 318 ].


Other Uses
Other uses rating: Medium (3/5). Agroforestry Uses: A fast-growing, pioneer species that also fixes atmospheric nitrogen, it can be used in reforestation projects and, with its small size and fairly open crown, is suitable for use in the first stages of a woodland garden[ 419 , K ]. Other Uses The wood is moderately heavy, soft, of low durability when exposed to the elements. Too small and of low quality for applications other than making light boxes, light workmanship etc[ 419 ]. Whole trunks and branches are used for fuel and to make charcoal[ 419 ].
Cultivation details
Brazilian orchid tree is found from the subtropical to the tropical zones. Prefers a sunny position[ 419 ]. Succeeds in a range of soils so long as they are well-drained[ 309 ]. Tolerant of acidic soils[ 309 ]. Established plants are very drought tolerant[ 309 ]. A fast-growing young plant, able to reach a height of 3.5 metres within 2 years from seed[ 419 ]. The wood can be rather weak, leading to branches breaking[ 309 ]. Although many species within the family Fabaceae have a symbiotic relationship with soil bacteria, this species is said to be devoid of such a relationship and therefore does not fix atmospheric nitrogen[ 755 ].
Seed - it has a hard seedcoat and may benefit from scarification before sowing to speed up germination. This can usually be done by pouring a small amount of nearly boiling water on the seeds (being careful not to cook them!) and then soaking them for 12 - 24 hours in warm water. By this time they should have imbibed moisture and swollen - if they have not, then carefully make a nick in the seedcoat (being careful not to damage the embryo) and soak for a further 12 hours before sowing. Seed the seed in a partially shaded position in individual containers. A germination rate of around 30% can be expected from untreated seeds, with the seed sprouting within 15 - 25 days[ 419 ]. They should be ready to plant out less than 6 months later. Cuttings. Layering. Suckers.
Other Names
Brazilian orchard treeüBauhinia forficata
Found In
Coming Soon
Weed Potential

Right plant wrong place. We are currently updating this section. Please note that a plant may be invasive in one area but may not in your area so it’s worth checking.

None Known
Conservation Status
IUCN Red List of Threatened Plants Status : Least Concern
Related Plants
Latin NameCommon NameEdibility RatingMedicinal Rating
Bauhinia purpureaOrchid Tree, Purple Butterfly Tree, Mountain Ebony, Geranium Tree, Purple Bauhinia22
Bauhinia vahliiMalu Creeper, Adda Leaf, Pahur Camel's Foot Creeper23
Bauhinia variegataMountain Ebony12


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For a list of references used on this page please go here
A special thanks to Ken Fern for some of the information used on this page.
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Subject : Bauhinia forficata  

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